Mixing Gender Politics with Sexual Assault

It was 1970 when Kate Millett wrote the book “Sexual Politics”, a book that would go on to become one of the bibles of the still burgeoning feminist movement. Suffice to say, it has been awhile since the process of recognizing women and their equal contributions to society began in earnest and now is still leading us into the 2020’s decade. All efforts have called for a dynamic reckoning; a need to recognize the goals of “equal pay for equal work”; greater representation in the boardrooms, courtrooms, and political offices of the country. It has reached into the very core of society, demanding fundamental change in the family structure, where sharing of responsibility is absolutely necessary in forming an equal partnership.

Many argue that the “glass ceiling” is still alive and well, despite notable progress and female politicians still wear the term “feminist” as a badge of honour. In this decades long continuum of proposed and achieved change, we have reached a point in this country, where it is now political suicide to suggest or propose anything that could, even in some obscure reference, be termed to be “anti-female”.

One must applaud the majority of changes which are enabling women to assume their rightful place in society –where nothing should be allowed to block them from reaching to the highest levels in whatever chosen endeavour.

The sexual politics of this country, historically, has been multi-layered and arriving in sporadic waves, sometimes taking a step back, only to go forward again. It seems that in all generational movements, not just the women’s movement, all change is pushed, at least at the outset, by the radical fringe which then draw in the reluctant middle majority. The fringe then becomes part of the new centre.

The Gloria Steinem‘s and the Ellen Willis’ of the world are needed to pull, prod, and chastise the non-conformers. Those who cling to past practises and policies are portrayed as “dated” — out of step with the basic tenet that everyone is created equal. The right to vote was an inalienable right, but just a single step to righting centuries of illogical, often inhumane and constricted female lives.

The #MeToo Movement is the latest incarnation or wave in this pantheon of women’s rights and it has in fact served a very real purpose. Reading Ronan Farrow’s recent book, “Catch and Kill” one can not help but be moved and angered by the still prevailing winds of male domination and entitlement that blow through, in this case, the news and entertainment industry. All males should and need to be embarrassed.

The likes of Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein, are the more notable recent American examples, all of whom needed to be pursued, outed and prosecuted. That process has begun in the United States and to a lesser less obvious degree in Canada. One wishes that the RCMP had taken such a hardened and exposing approach to cleaning out the male locker room of the RCMP.

The fact that the RCMP was often a cesspool of male domination was difficult enough to publicly absorb, but the real stain on the RCMP may be the decision to settle the class action suit(s). Thus effectively forever silencing the various allegations; which with little doubt reached the very top of the organization. The circumstances demanded radical surgery on the organization, a cut into the heart of the organization. It would have meant lengthy and costly investigations, but in the end it would have gone a long way in exposing and cleaning up the disease.

Justice was not served by payments of hundreds of millions of dollars, justice was in fact denied or at the very least diverted.

Women were paid to keep quiet about their allegations and all men, innocent or otherwise in this once proud organization were sloppily painted with the same brush. How this determinative action was going to change the “culture” remains undefined— in fact it may be the greatest cover-up ever pulled in Canadian history.

That all being said and despite the many wrongs, one must always be vigilant to the need for fairness, always seek the truth with the goal of ultimate justice. It needs to be recognized that change, or at least legitimate and broad change, takes time. One can not rush cultural change and any change which is patently unfair only sets the movement backwards.

All of which leads to a relatively recent troubling development in the area of sexual offences. To understand the problem you need to understand the current political environment.

The #MeToo Movement has an outer fringe who often take the view that if “she” said it, it is true. They are effectively ignoring that there is a tricky balance. On the one hand one is hearing from brave women talking about the wrongs from past years and only now are women, no doubt emboldened by this movement, have had the confidence to come forward.

The other darker side of the argument is that a wrongful allegation once made, especially in this 21st rush to judgement society could condemn an innocent person to jail. The accused ostracized to the point of being unable to function– their entire lives up-ended. The truism that holds that two wrongs don’t make a right should always be firmly in sight and one must always remember that the fundamental building block of our justice system is the “presumption of innocence”.

The current Liberal government has made over reaction into an art form. No trending cause is too small –if it polls with the right audience, then it needs to be enshrined in policy, regardless of the ultimate damage or outcome. No need for informed study, if it twitters favourably it must be good.

Hence, we now have a discombobulated piece of marihuana legislation and the idea has been born that individual cities should govern the banning of firearms, according to their own city views. These ideas and subsequent legislation gain favour and the head bobbing politicians standing behind the podiums go right along, seemingly undeterred by common sense or any thoughtful opposition. Millennial appeals to voters are good, outcomes the future and someone else’s problem.

The feminist movement, even in radical form, is just one of those causes which according to all the “progressives” can not be questioned. There are other examples like the indigenous, or climate change. No need for study, no need to question, no need for expertise.

In promoting the feminist cause, in their zeal, this government has brought us such things as: a new government department formed around the previous “Status of Women” counsel; “gender-based analysis” for the Federal budget, which among its mentions is that they codified the need for “more women in senior management positions”; Bill C-65 which governed the Federal government workplace, amending the Canada Labour Code focussing on the need to remove harassment and violence from the workplace.

All of this can or may be grudgingly accepted, as it is often difficult to argue against some of the intent of these enactments, however flawed in their application some of it may be.

But where the government overstepped was in the passage of Bill C-51. This was a piece of legislation also introduced by Jody Wilson-Raybould, often a martyr of the fringe, one who had no quibble with interfering with the justice system if it involved her pet causes.

Bill C-51 is an example of the fringe demanding and finding a receptive audience among the Liberals and those #MeToo members who believe that no woman can be deceptive, or less than forthright, about anything that purports to be some form of sexual assault or harassment.

For those who have not followed this Bill (which, it should be added, passed Parliament with All Party support) deals with future conduct for the trial of those accused of sexual offences and was designed primarily to further protect the victim or the accuser.

And if you are in the group of believers in the women’s right to allege and be always believed, than you need to consider the case of Jan Gomeshi. This bill, C-51 was, many have argued, in response to the subsequent total acquittal of Mr. Gomeshi and the fringe feminist public backlash at the results.

During the trial the two primary witnesses had their credibility totally destroyed by the uncovering of emails and text messages which they sent before and after the alleged assaults and rapes. They were confronted with this direct, difficult to deny evidence, by the more than capable lawyer, Marie Heinen. She personally took a great deal of heat from the “I believe accusers” group which included politicians such as Tom Mulcair. Paradoxically, she in her role, should have been heralded as one of the true examples of someone carrying the torch for feminism.

Bill C-51 came on the heals of the Gomeshi trial which pitted the arguments for a fair trial against the argument for the protection of the accuser victim. Bill C-51 passed in December of 2018. Jody Wilson-Raybould heralded it as the “first major update in 20 years”, while others quietly called it quite simply “unconstitutional”. As the bill now begins to be applied throughout the country it seems that the courts are now recognizing it as in fact being “unconstitutional”.

The bill in effect sets up a screening feature which necessitates that all defence records; things such as texts, Facebook entries and other social media, get to be scrutinized ahead of the accuser’s testimony in admissibility hearings. This has the effect of giving an alleged victim a sneak peak at the defence evidence which could have the obvious effect of allowing the Crown, and the accuser, to tailor their evidence in anticipation of that evidence. Effectively warning them in advance of something countering their evidence. It is “reverse disclosure”.

The Saskatchewan and Alberta Superior Courts now have stated that this Act violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights which deals with the right to make full answer and defence, and it also contravenes Section 11 (d), which assures the right to a fair trial.

The Crown, obliging its masters argues that the Act is fair and Section 1 of the Charter allows for reasonable limits that can be justified in a free society.

The defence argues that this is going to lead to “wrongful convictions”.

In Parliamentary hearings groups such as the Womens Legal Education and Action Fund argued that this was “necessary”. Were they arguing the possibility of wrongfully convicting someone was “necessary”?

There is little doubt that this Act and its provisions will wind its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Hopefully, even those Liberal leaning Justices may find that clearly weighting a case in favour of one side over the other, is a little too much bending in this era of professed enlightenment.

After the Ghomesi case, Peter Mansbridge interviewed Marie Heinen, in an interview which Mansbridge entered clearly in support of the leftist fringe on his cue cards. An interview intended to lament and repeat the fringe feminist maxim that all women accusers are right and truthful.

Heinen was forceful and deliberate in her counter-argument. She succintley pointed out that most evidence is circumstantial and thus often goes to credibility. The credibility of all involved; the Crown, the defence, the accused, the accusers, and the police. The central point being that all evidence needs to be tested.

Everyone needs to “get a fair shake”. She points out it is what separates our justice system from that of others and it is indeed what makes this country worth defending.

As to the feminist fringe who rage about the outcomes of any acquittal, she simply states “guaranteed results is not justice”. This is one defence counsel lawyer that every police officer should listen to, along with all of those in the feminist corner. We as a society must always be aware that legitimate progress requires full and honest examination. The price is too high otherwise.

Photo courtesy of gt8073c via Flickr Commons – Some rights Reserved

The MMIWG –as Predicted: Wasteful and Disturbing results

A lunatic, admittedly an antiquated term, comes from the latin “lunaticus” or “moonstruck”, referring to a mentally ill person, or as in this case, a person who is dangerous, foolish, or unpredictable. So this blog’s nomination for the most moonstruck politician in this current age is Marion Buller– the head of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls public inquiry –which is about to end (finally) its over two year long reign as the most ridiculous waste of taxpayer money in the last number of years.

This blog wrote about the then pending inquiry in February 2017; with a prediction that it was a massive waste of time, that it was pandering to the Indigenous but offered little to no hope of it helping the indigenous. Well, it has more than met all expectations and its delayed final report will hit the new stands on June 3rd, 2019. This too is late, and late after even having won an extension as it was originally supposed to be concluded in November 2018.

This inquiry started out with a projected cost of $70.5 million so from the start it promised to be the most expensive inquiry in Canadian history. Two years in, they then had the audacity to ask for an extension, wanting another two years which they didn’t get. They did get another $50 million bringing the un-official total cost in the neighbourhood of $120.5 million.

This group is so blind to taxpayer consideration, that in honour of their massive and brilliant undertaking, they are going to have a party and fund over 100 Indigenous communities to thank all the participants and in celebration of the “conclusion of this journey with us”. It is fully expected, that Jody Wilson-Raybould will enter the official party carried by six, like Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy’s; an entry befitting the media’s patron saint of reconciliation.

If ever there was a gathering of people with a one dimension interest and with a single purpose in the guise of an actual inquiry, this was it. The people assigned to this working group, started off with a set of beliefs and then set out to prove it, with a surfeit of anecdotal evidence. Witnesses testifying to a time frame between 60 and 100 years ago, often anecodotal, often based on story telling.

According to the inquiry of course, in their words, they have been diligently working on “exposing hard truths about the devastating impacts of colonization, racism, and sexism…aspects of Canadian society”. That was clearly their reason for being and that is what they set out to prove. There was no inquiring in this inquiry.

Throughout this time the inquiry has been persistently hampered by allegations of mis-management and in-fighting, and even factions of the indigenous wanted it scrapped.

According to their own web site, there was a total of 2386 participants; 1484 family members and “survivors” (the last residential school closed in 1996- some 23 years ago- to date the indigenous have been paid out $1.9 billion in compensation) and 819 of these participated through “artistic expression”. This inquiry was calling it “evidence” even if that evidence came through traditional story-telling and art. With this level of understanding of what actually constitutes evidence you should not be surprised later in this blog as to what some of her recommendations will be.

There were 83 “experts”, “knowledge keepers” (my favourite term) and “officials” providing testimony.

In January 2018, the Executive Director of the Inquiry, Debbie Reid resigned. The previous Executive Director had already resigned, as had one of the Commissioners. Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett had by now began admitting that she was concerned about the number of staff withdrawals. A total of eight people had resigned or been fired at this time.

In June 2018 Commissioner Audette threatened to resign because her request for a two year extension had been declined by Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.

Audette, returned to work a couple of weeks later and began to make excuses for the final report saying that “the final report will not be as comprehensive as it could have been” when she had been only given another six months and not the two years she requested.

In July 2018, lawyer Breen Ouelette resigned, the sixth lawyer to do so stating that the “inquiry was speeding towards failure”. Their primary allegation being political interference from the Federal government, that there was a lack of “transparency, communication and effectiveness.” Actively biting the hand that fed them.

In October 2018, Ms. Buller and Commissioner Michelle Audette were already expressing concerns that the government had not acted quickly enough after the release of its mid-term report. Buller described the interim report as “ground-breaking” and she was concerned that the final results may be ignored. She said that it was “horribly disappointing not only to us but to Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people all across Canada”. Ms Buller may be over stating the inquiry and its eventual impact, as there are very few people in Canada who would have read it at this time.

In November 2018 two further staff members left. This was in keeping with the mass exodus of staff, which by now had reached an epic 30 staffers.

It was about this same time that co-counsel Jennifer Cox, became the 7th lawyer to leave the inquiry. Buller of course had no comment, and the lawyers who are bound to confidentiality, conveniently remain muzzled.

Now, with only a couple of weeks to go before issuing the final report, the inquiry is still in front of the Federal Court trying to get access to two RCMP files. They are arguing that these two files represent the core of the inquiry’s mandate to look into the systemic causes of violence against indigenous woman.

Seems a little late to say the least, not to mention that they have had access to many files during this two year period, a total of 119 investigations, 23 of which were related to ongoing investigations. Department of Justice counsel argue that the two files aren’t necessary. The inquiry lawyer Ravi Hira said that there are deficiencies with “one of the cases”. A little suspicious to say the least. Even the Judge asked how they were going to possibly review two large files and still make it to the report.

Throughout this agonizing process, the Federal government remained mum, did not step in, forever fearful of being accused of being big colonial brother. Hoping beyond hope that all things would get worked out by some miracle of bureaucracy.

This inquiry was an act of appeasement. Bring all the indigenous together, give them unlimited funding, give them legal and technical resources, and then have hundreds testify to the same issue.

If you spent any time at all watching these the public hearing proceedings you will have seen the same thing, played out daily for hours upon hours.

A woman or man tearfully testifying, unscripted, often meandering off topic, and never a question asked as to the truthfulness of the testimony. All that was said was accepted. There would be rows of counsellors, holding religious or sacred icons comforting the woman, nodding sagely, dramatic empathy oozing. A parade of tears, some real, some brought about by pointed prodding.

The Indigenous political factions are consistent in only two areas as this Inquiry found out.

First, a time in history when they were present on the land before the arrival of the Europeans. They were here first and this translates according to their broad interpretations, to some form of veto over all things in Canada.

Secondly, they now realize that this is their golden moment, the Federal coffers have been opened up and they have a national government seeking their approval. All levels of government are woefully short of ideas on how to solve the multitude of indigenous endemic problems. So they throw money and apologize profusely.

However, other than for these two factors the indigenous groups are divided along hundreds of political lines. Some are wanting to invest in pipelines, some are protesting, but all are seeking financial redress of varying description. Others argue that they are one of two nations in this country. Some are arguing for laws to protect their rights while others argue that the laws of Canada do not apply to them. While some want to return and preserve culture and language, others are chasing dreams of casinos and medicinal marihuana stores.

This in-fighting infiltrates any and all proposed policy options, making it almost impossible to reach consensus. They don’t even agree on the Inquiry itself, some calling for another inquiry, some just giving up.

The only constant is the constant outreach for more funds and the hundreds of lawyers now pursuing those dreams on their behalf. The lawyers also being funded by the government.

It was clear from the start that the “inquiry” was made of a political necessity, not necessitated as should be the case by an actual need to know. The statistics already pointed to the hundreds of factors that result in missing and murdered indigenous: poverty, lack of education, drug and alcohol abuse, housing, nutrition, criminal activity, staggeringly high birth rates etc. It has already been calculated that 80% of the violence against indigenous women and girls is perpetrated by their own, their families, the friends, and the neighbours.

All this was known before the inquiry and the factors will still be the same after the inquiry.

The original Commissioners of this “Inquiry” were Buller, a member of Saskatchewans Mistawsis First Nation; Michelle Audette an Innu woman who failed to win a Liberal seat in Quebec; Qajaq Robinson a Nunuvut born lawyer who was legal counsel at the Federal Special Claims Tribunal; Marilyn Poitras, a Metis law professor at the University of Saskatchewan; and Bryan Eyolfson, a First Nations lawyer who served on the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and also in the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

The appearance of bias and slant could not have been more obvious. If there was an inquiry into the oil industry and all the Commissioners worked for Exxon and Shell would it be considered fair? If there was an inquiry into policing and all the Commissioners were members of the police would it be considered fair? Would there be an outcry? Of course, so why was there no outcry in the most expensive Inquiry ever taken on in Canada? Interestingly, the media was and remains completely mute.

So after this smorgasbord of like-minded social workers, lawyers, counsellors, and commissioners finish draining millions in their efforts, they are about to present that final report.

Recently, Marion Buller gave a hint of what was to come.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs over Bill C-75, Ms. Buller suggests, that if it is an indigenous woman that is murdered, then it should be automatically first degree murder. She believes that the Indigenous should be treated differently legally, by the courts and the judges, in that they should get special consideration.

There are only certain provisions in the Criminal Code which allow for this automatic update to 1st degree murder; the killing of a policeman, a corrections officer, or in moments of terrorism.

But now, this former B.C. Judge, Ms. Buller, believes there are different classes of victims, and that the indigenous death is more serious than the others. The policeman and the corrections officers have been singled out as the jobs they do entail the protection of the general public. Ms. Buller now wants charge determination dependent on the colour of your skin or heritage.

She deems that this would be an act of reconciliation.

It would mean an automatic sentence of life and no chance of parole for twenty-five years. When it was pointed out to her that indigenous women are for the most part killed by their own, she was therefore advocating putting indigenous killers in jail for longer periods of time; she seemed taken aback. It was almost like she had never had seen that possibility.

The recommendation is ludicrous of course. Or is it?

With a coming election and the Liberals desperate to put Jody Wilson-Raybould behind them, would they consider such a criminal code change as an act of appeasement. Another apology if you will.

If you don’t think so, consider the latest Supreme Court of Canada ruling concerning the tragic case of the death of Cindy Gladue, an Indigenous sex trade worker. The accused was acquitted, but the Supreme Court ordered a new trial for “manslaughter”.

Justice Moldaver in a 4-3 decision writing for the majority stated in the decision: “As an additional safeguard going forward, in sexual assault cases where the complainant is an indigenous woman or girl, trial judges would be well advised to provide an express instruction aimed at countering prejudice against Indigenous women and girls”. It is not going as far as Ms. Buller, but it’s at the top of the hill, looking down the slippery slope.

Qajaq Robinson, of the MMWIG, who of course intervened in the case, called it a “tremendous step forward” saying that the courts have recognized that “in cases of sexual assault against Indigenous women and girls, that there is an obligation on the courts, on judges, to be gatekeepers to ensure that bias, prejudice, racism and sexism do not form part of the evidence…”

Again, on first blush this too seems somewhat logical, but there was no evidence of this being the case in this trial, it is based on a presumption.

Complicating this was the fact that the victim was engaged in a 2nd day of prostitution with this same man and the Crown argued that it went towards a determination of “consent” and therefore evidence of the victim being a paid sex worker was relevant.

So a new trial has been ordered.

But now have a Liberal leaning Supreme court warranting “express instructions” in the case of an Indigenous victim, a Federal Liberal apologist government, and a completely biased and unapologetic special interest Inquiry, all of whom may be taking us down a very dangerous road.

Section 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of rights says that “everyone is equal before and under the law and has right to equal protection and equal benefit under the law”.

Apparently Ms. Buller doesn’t agree.

Photo Courtesy of the Canadian Press — Some Rights Reserved

Machiavelli in the Midst


It keeps pulling you back, you try to get out, and it just pulls you back in again, a sucking vortex of palace intrigue. An Ottawa drama, part Downtown Abbey, part the Office; backroom politics on full enticing display. Throw in the ridiculous opposition parties with over the top hyperbole and a salivating ‘breaking news’ media, and admittedly it makes for a delicious soup for the political junkies. We all know, or at least presume, that behind these syrupy politicians there is often a hidden counter message, but we are not often given a glimpse of the nuances, the real dialogue, where honesty often hides behind the curated media releases.

Trudeau’s gossamer world of appointments based on identity politics and minimal merit are now crashing head long into reality, a reality played by a group of less than pure politicians. The Liberal policy planks of women advancement and Indigenous reconciliation are being gutted– ripped from their promised platform by a woman who maybe should be identified as more Louis Riel than a Federalist Trudeau Liberal.

We have now learned that Ms. Raybould was audio recording her meeting with Michael Wernick and has now provided a 17 minute tape to the Justice Committee, unbeknownst to Mr. Wernick. So, it would appear that JWR (as the fawning press like to call her) has more in common with Michael Cohen, the greasy lawyer for Trump than any of us would have thought, or has been written in a previous blog where we compared the two. Cohen recorded Trump during the time he was negotiating with the ‘affair’ girls. Cohen wanted Trump on the record, for blackmail or for just covering his posterior, it is not quite clear.

So we would be remiss if we didn’t ask Ms. Raybould as to why she was recording her discussion with Michael Wernick? What was her intent?

Having been around for a few years in policing, this writer dealt with wiretaps, interview recordings, and the surreptitious recording of suspects. It becomes very clear if operating in this world, that if one is recording someone else, unbeknownst to that party, they are hoping for one of two possibilities. That the recorded person says something out of the ordinary, or, they are hoping to entice that recorded person into saying something out of the ordinary. In other words, there is a singular purpose to the effort. Was Ms. Raybould recording this conversation as possible “evidence” of wrong-doing, or is it a little more sinister, something that she could use as a weapon against the powers to be, especially if they tried to get rid of her.

“it is better to be feared than loved, if you can not be both” – Machiavelli

The questions that this recording and its content engenders are numerous. Remember that she never mentioned having a recording of Wernick when she testified for 4-5 hours. Did it slip her mind? Did she not see it as relevant at that time? What changed? Did she record anyone else? Are there other recordings that she doesn’t think are relevant at this time?

The recording basically covers the same territory as has been outlined by JWR and Wernick. There is nothing earth shattering in it. It is clear that the Liberals were putting pressure on her, and it was equally clear in what she said and how she said it, that JWR was adamant and somewhat belligerent about having made up her mind. Wernick says the Prime Minister is concerned that they are not considering a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) even though it is a tool that is open to them, and the loss of jobs for SNC should be a consideration. Wernick on a couple of occasions argues with her about it constituting in undue pressure saying “I’m not seeing anything inappropriate in it”. This of course fits with what he said during his appearance before the Justice committee.

There are some other tantalizing clues in the audio recording.

Wernick expresses concern that it is not good that the Prime Minister and his Justice Minister are at “loggerheads”. Clear indication that this is not the first disagreement which has occurred between JWR and JT.

Ms. Raybould is clearly agitated in this conversation. She in clear and no uncertain terms says that she believes that this is “interference”…that they are “politically pressuring me”. Was she speaking to the recording? It was a very clear and concise choice of words, somewhat out of sync, but deliberate in their delivery.

She is also clearly agitated by the fact that Wernick tells her that the PM may get some advice from Beverly McLaughlin, the former Supreme Court Chief Justice. You don’t have to read too far between the lines to see that they are questioning her competence, and she does not like it.

She even misstates during the phone call that she has “evidence” of a copy of the Section 13 being sent early in September to the PMO; then quickly changes it to having notes of it being sent to the PMO. This slip in language is further evidence that this phone call, her note-taking, her direction to her staff to take notes on this matter, is clearly indicative that Ms. Raybould was in the stages of preparing her personal case. She felt the need to prepare a case against her leader and his minions, but is she preparing this case because of her ‘principles’ or is this because, as she states in this very conversation that she is waiting “for the other foot to drop”? Her “dream job” after all (at least in her mind )was in jeopardy. So was this plotting and framing a case about her job security or was it for standing up for prosecutorial independence?

It is this writer’s belief that JWR was not taking this stance because of the SNC-Lavalin affair. What has often been largely ignored in the reporting to date is the fact that JWR has shown no previous problem with interfering in the judicial process– she has in fact interfered in a direct way on more than one occasion. Whether it be the Colten Boushie trial in Saskatchewan, or in the Restoule case, which has been outlined by former Judge Brian Giesbrecht of Manitoba in his article in the CTC Journal.

In the Restoule case, Indigenous lawyers argued that treaty annuity payments in the Robinson treaties (covering the Northern Great Lakes) should be retroactive for the last 150 years. A “practise directive” was issued by JWR’s office which deliberately weakened the Crown case making it inevitable that the Judge would “find for the plaintiff”. In effect the Minister “threw the game”. Other indigenous groups are now lining up to try and get the same rulings in their cases. This could cost in the “billions of dollars” and an anonymous Crown stated at the time and that if “these directives are not reversed there will be huge financial consequences for taxpayers”.

How this is not a conflict of interest should be the first question. When the Justice Minister, a former Assembly of First Nations Executive, is making policy and issuing directives directly affecting the Indigenous and their future claims. (Do you remember the furor by the opposition when Morneau was involved in legislation affecting the insurance industry) But besides being a clear conflict, it is also clear evidence that JWR has no compunction in interfering in the judicial process. She just doesn’t want to interfere for SNC Lavalin.

One of her last acts as the Justice Minister, after being demoted, was to affirm her Practise Directives to the Justice Ministry where it was stated that they should cease “adversarial” arguments in all litigation involving “indigenous claims”. In other words, find a settlement with the Indigenous claims, do not take them into court.

In this audiotaped phone call it starts with Wernick saying that he is “not calling you about the litigation directive”. Was there a previous dispute about the litigation directives? Were her directives which could effectively cost the taxpayers millions if not billions of dollars maybe being seen as a cause gone too far, even for the Liberals?

We have also now learned, apparently by a Liberal leak, that Ms. Raybould was trying to have a Manitoba Justice, Justice Glenn Joyal elevated to the head of the Supreme Court of Canada. An unusual move as Joyal was not already a member of the Supreme Court of Canada. The credentials of Mr. Joyal aside, apparently Ms. Raybould planned to then move an Indigenous judge into the vacated Manitoba Court of Queens Bench. Apparently, Trudeau did not go along with this recommendation and instead appointed Richard Wagner.

The leak itself has caused consternation among the Conservative and NDP pundits (although they had no concerns about the original Globe and Mail leak–which clearly pointed at Raybould’s office), but the fact that Ms. Raybould’s was maybe orchestrating another pro- Indigenous political move, seems to be secondary to the partisan commentaries.

It is mesmerizing that Ms. Raybould is escaping close scrutiny of her motivations and tactics. Is it possible that our level of political correctness does not allow for the same scrutiny for a woman, and that an indigenous woman is somehow fireproof? Is it possible we overlook a clear conflict of interest, a single issued focused minister, who is in the habit of recording her colleagues, and instead want to believe her to be some form of principled Mother Theresa?

This blog would never be judged a supporter of Justin Trudeau and this group of Liberals. They have brought this on themselves. But they are awakening now to the fact that there was a Machiavelli in their midst, someone capable of deceit who was prepared, if scorned, of taking all of them down.

In July 1974 Richard Nixon went down in flames over a recorded conversation, the infamous “smoking gun” tape that had been exposed by Alexander Butterfield. Ms. Raybould’s tape may also be her downfall, as the element of mistrust of her is now forefront in Liberal caucus minds and the cracks in her armour are beginning to appear.

Does Ms. Raybould have an agenda? There should be little doubt.

She clearly has designs on being a power player in the Liberal party in the future. That is why she has not left the Party, which seems counter-intuitive in light of her slagging of Justin. How could one possibly argue their personal “principles”, say you have no confidence in the leader of that party, while at the same time stay in the Liberal party?

Today as this is being written she is arguing that she should be allowed to remain in caucus. She clearly wants to stay and take advantage of being in the Liberal circle. One can only wait and see if the Liberal caucus will be swayed by her claim of pure intentions and that she is doing the “best job she can” as she told Global News in a somewhat arrogant and testy reply as to whether she should resign.

In her public posture she will keep polishing the teller of truths narrative. She has no other choice, but one wonders if the recording was a step gone too far in terms of her political agenda. Whether it was a mistake or not, it clearly was a revelation of her true character.

During a recent feast hosted for her in Campbell River on Vancouver Island her tried and true repetitive theme came through– “I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House…”.

One has to wonder whether “her truth” is actually the same as our truth and whether the “Big House” includes the Houses of Parliament.

Photo courtesy of Jody Wilson-Raybould via Twitter

Two hearing rooms, two witnesses, two versions..

It was a sort of twist on a “worlds colliding” storyline; in one day, one was able to watch seven riveting hours of two committee hearings, in front of two justices committees, with two different witnesses. Different issues, different countries, but both witnesses trying to heave over their respective political institutions, both, like moths having now apparently seen the light and have been drawn to the flame of righteousness.

One claimed that he had now realized his past lies and deceptions, and now felt the need to tell the truth. His jail sentence about to begin in a couple of months adding to the drama, and no doubt his ability to easily appear in public may be hindered by incarceration. The truth he told was that he had lied and cheated on behalf of his President, the President of the United States.

The other witness, was wanting to speak “her truth”. Not a singular truth, “her truth”. A woman scorned apparently, removed from her dream portfolio and her dreams of promoting the indigenous agenda on behalf of Canadians flattened by a vengeful Prime Minister; removed because she claimed that she had failed to buckle under political pressure and interference in the judicial process. At least that was her story. She too had found the path to righteousness.

In viewing these committee hearings it is often difficult to narrow in on that stated truth as the political grandstanding in both these committee rooms was in full bloom. Difficult for the viewing public to try and draw some conclusion as to who was telling the truth; a he/ he said, or a he/she/he said quandary. The facts too often twisted and turned to fit the reporting or political agendas.

Of course, one of these individuals we are talking about is Michael Cohen. A fixer of problems in the sordid world of blackmail and sexual impropriety, aided by dispensing copious amounts of money, all in the effort keep the President from being tarnished. In the end his success at fending off the “fake news” could be debated.

The other, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Attorney General and Justice Minister for the Government of Canada under Trudeau and the Liberals. She is claiming that she resigned under pressure from her boss and his political cabal, that she was being pressured to interfere with the Judicial process in an effort to make a good deal for the business and Quebec based conglomerate SNC-Lavalin.

In our effort to get to the truth in both cases, we should judge both of these individuals by three criteria; the criteria that is practised in most criminal or civil cases and told to most juries. That is, that anytime one is being asked to judge or weigh evidence, one should consider the following criteria.

Credibility. Does the witness appear or come across as credible?

Corroboration. Can any evidence of the witness be corroborated?

And finally, what are their motives, does the witness have a possible agenda, or an ulterior motive in coming forward? Strong motives have a tendency to warp the truth.

These principles of truthfulness apply to any judgement or determination that one is trying to make, whether it be on the gangster turned witness or a domestic dispute in family court.

Let’s first deal with Mr. Cohen as he seems to be the most black and white out of the characters, and like most men, somewhat easier read.

Cohen confessed to previous lies, previous deceptions, previously aiding the President to hide his misogynistic exploits, and altering tax returns to help the President. One may or may not be surprised by the depth of the loyalty he had shown. He was Trump’s “personal lawyer” for ten years, but solicitor client privilege went out the window when Prosecutors from two different offices began to put their feet on his neck.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould, is also a lawyer, who despite a paper thin resume, leapt to the top of the political food chain, aided no doubt by the fact that she was a woman, but more importantly an indigenous woman. She was given a substantial and powerful Ministry despite this very limited judicial experience, a combined portfolio of Justice Minister and Attorney General. As the Attorney General she oversaw the Public Prosecution Service who was overseeing the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

“A little over three years” by her own admission was the height of her legal career working in the Crown office at 222 Main St in Vancouver where she no doubt handled copious amounts of theft, shoplifting and minor assault files; but nothing much larger than that. From there she she went on to work as Regional Chief for the B.C. Assembly of First Nations. With this limited legal background she was placed overseeing the broad and often complicated mandate of Canadian law and its applications. It would be like making a four year officer the Chief of Police, or the Commissioner of the RCMP.

She was both in practise and in theory effectively a one issue Minister, an activist lawyer for Indigenous rights. One must keep this in mind when we consider the eventual outcomes.

So what was Mr Cohen’s motive? He had already pled guilty to criminal offences, for which he will be going to jail. His reputation has been effectively destroyed, at least for the near future. He could maybe expect some leniency in sentencing, which will happen in about a month, but the Special Prosecutor has already written a letter on his behalf in terms of his assistance in their investigation. It would seem that he has little to gain at this stage.

His sole motivation seems to be to try and salvage his tattered reputation and come out a bit on the good side if at all possible. He also seems to enjoy the attention.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould motive? A little more difficult to figure out.

What was covered in the hearing to some degree was that she was demoted from her job as Attorney General and the Minister of Justice, and she believed that her being moved was the result of her refusal to bow to political pressure. She clearly was angry on her removal from being the Attorney General. Several members of the press during the time of the swearing in ceremonies even commenting on her clearly obvious stone-faced cold demeanour. She went from in her words “her dream job” and being in one of the most powerful Cabinet positions, to a 2nd tier cabinet post, usually reserved for those on the way up or on the way out.

Clearly Ms. Wilson-Raybould may have had revenge in mind, both on her Prime Minister and those around him. It seems as likely a motive as any. There is little doubt that she decided to come forward only after being demoted. If she had remained as Attorney General, we would not have heard any of these allegations of wrongdoing, and she would have been campaigning for Trudeau and the Liberals. She still remains in the Liberal caucus although she has told everyone that now she has no confidence in the Prime Minister.

The one question that was never asked of her was whether or not she leaked the story to the Globe and Mail. Was she the “unnamed source”? Gerald Butts in his testimony made reference to being contacted by the Globe and Mail for the requisite media reaction, and he said that the reporter seemed to be describing the one and only meeting he had with Ms. Raybould at the Chateau Laurier. There were only two of them there, and if she or someone close to her did leak the story, revenge would be confirmed as her sole motivation and may have actually put her in a precarious legal position. Mysteriously no one questioned this possible angle.

If revenge was her motive, then her statements should be viewed in a more severe light.

Lets now consider corroboration. Mr. Cohen produced some supporting documents, such as income tax reports, and the payments to the female dalliances. He named others that were in the room and almost dared the committee to bring them forward. He has also gone on record in several court room appearances, and as mentioned before, the Special Counsel’s office, who would have tried to corroborate his evidence.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould used her “self-made” notes of these occasions, braggingly asserting that she always takes copious notes, and early on had instructed her Chief of Staff to take detailed notes on anything to do with SNC. When asked if the Committee could have those notes, she said she would take it under advisement. However, her direct quotes, as they normally do, came across as being accurate and irrefutable. However, equally noted was the fact that there may have been other references in her notes she did not wish exposed.

In an opening statement of some fifty minutes and then four and a half hours of questioning and clarification Ms Wilson-Raybould went over how she had received a Section 13 note from the Director of Public Prosecutions which detailed the reasons they decided that they would go ahead with the prosecution and not the Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

It is a private document so the contents of the reasoning put forward has not seen the light of examination. This was around September 12th 2018 and Ms Raybould was on vacation in Australia, and returned to Ottawa on the 16th of September, and stated that by September 18th or 19th she concurred with the Director and they would go ahead with the Criminal prosecution. As she emphatically said throughout the hearing, she had therefore, “made up her mind” after a couple of days of review.

This becomes a central issue because even though she said she made up her mind, after meeting with the PM and the Clerk of the Privy Counsel Office, she agreed to further meetings with Michael Wernick and the Deputy Minister of Justice. She even said that SNC could write her a letter that she would forward to the Public Prosecution Office.

Gerald Butts testified that he was not aware of her having “made up her mind” until her testimony before the Judicial committee. She herself stated that at no time did she tell the PM, the Clerk of the Privy Counsel Office, or the PMO that she had made up her mind and that she was not interested in discussing it further. She also stated that at no time did she think anything was being done illegally, which one would assume means that there was no obstruction of justice taking place.

She then detailed twenty “points of contact” which were ten phone calls and ten meetings over the next few months; from September to December 2018, where she felt she was pressured by both the PMO, the PMO staffers, and the Clerk of the Privy Counsel Office to consider a relatively new tool in the prosecution briefcase, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

It would seem that Ms Wilson-Raybould was playing two sets of cards; one appearing to be compliant and interested in other options, while at the same time stating privately that she thought this was political interference. Even in her one and only meeting with Butts, she prompted the two hour dinner, not him, and was texting friendly notes before and after the meeting. He says that she only brought up SNC Lavalin near the very end of the dinner, that most of the conversation pertained to other indigenous issues, which is very much in keeping with her priorities, and therefore logical.

After seeing the outcry over GM in Oshawa of 1500 jobs, it is not much of a stretch to say that the government would be worried in terms of public policy, and whether a DPA option would be a more suitable outcome. Keep in mind that this is not a get out of jail free card as some have put out there, it is simply a guilty plea but limits the effects on the company itself, its shareholders, contractors, and invested pension funds. It was a plea agreement proposal. What this all came down to was whether speaking about the secondary political issues to an Attorney General around a prosecution was in fact interference?

Ms Wilson-Raybould testified as to “veiled threats”; references to finding a “solution”; a direct confrontation with the PM as to whether he was politically interfering? She admitted that he said, no, that he affirmed that it was her decision, and in her own words there was nothing illegal about this pressure, but that it was “inappropriate”.

Lets also keep in mind that Ms Wilson-Raybould had no problem interfering in the Colten Boushie/Gerald Stanley case in Saskatchewan. She had no problem eventually amending the law to alter the jury selection process to appease the Indigenous activists over this case, and passed Bill C-75.

This is also the same Minister who has offered up Section 35 Directives for three different issues– HIV, Terrorism, and of course, where she directed the Department of Justice on Indigenous Litigation. This latter Directive issued by this Justice Minister is an interesting document considering her apparent principle of not interfering in the judicial process.

In this directive she is directing the Department of Justice. She states that “the Attorney General may seek to intervene in cases that raise important issues, particularly ones that may affect reconciliation”. It goes on, and enforces or “ensures its relationships with indigenous peoples..rights to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government”. So a former advocate for the Assembly of First Nations is issuing a directive dealing with and enforcing indigenous rights. Is Trudeau advocating for his constituents and jobs in Quebec any different? Are they both not clear conflicts of interest?

So her stated reluctance to interfere in the judicial process seems at least a little bit suspect.

She feels she should not have been put under this pressure, which for the most part centred on their asking for at least an outside legal opinion before she proceeded. This suggestion does not seem illogical, it is common practise. (She did not seem to have problems asking for legal advice as to what she could testify to) She also blocked a Deputy Minister of Justice report that was supposed to be sent to the PMO. Why? Was she worried about a counter opinion to hers?

She was asked whether the subsequent quitting of the Cabinet and the Veterans Affairs Ministry was the result of this pressure. She said she could not comment on this as it being of Cabinet privilege, although Butts and Wernick did not seem to be similarly constrained, even though the latter two were both under the same guidelines.

This was very convenient for her. She did not mention that she had in fact been offered the Department of Indigenous Affairs, not Veterans Affairs.

This is a big difference in light of the all-consuming importance this Liberal government puts on Indigenous issues (even creating its own Ministry). It made perfect sense to put her in this portfolio, and it would not have been considered a demotion. This totally crushes the theory that she was demoted because of her principled stand on SNC, and therefore hurt her credibility in terms of the political narrative that she was pushing.

It is pretty apparent that Ms Wilson-Raybould brought this forward because she was angry. She wanted to keep this “dream job”, and when told by the PM expressed shock and confronted him in saying that this was about other issues, i.e. SNC Lavalin. Both the PM and Butts who was listening in, said no, it was a logical choice and it had been spurred by the retiring of Scott Bryson. They said they were surprised by this statement. The phone call ended.

A few days later she turned down the Indigenous Affairs job, because she now stated that she could have nothing to do with running a Ministry that oversaw the Indian Act. Would the Justice Ministry and the Attorney General’s office not have to on occasion enforce the Indian Act? Was she not responsible for carrying out all laws in this country?

They then offered her Veterans Affairs, which she took, was sworn in, and then quit that as well. Swearing allegiance to the Liberals and the PM during the swearing in ceremony, but in a few days losing confidence in this same group.

Her partner and friend, Jane Philpott, who was offered Treasury Board, was “excited” according to the Prime Minister when she took the job and then abruptly also quit a little while later; in defence apparently of Wilson-Raybould. She was the previous Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and interestingly offered up the fact that Ms Raybould would be upset, and would think that her shuffle was because of SNC Lavalin, before it was mentioned by Ms Wilson-Raybould.

Both expressed an inability to have confidence in their leader Mr. Trudeau, but both seemingly want to stay Liberals. The press are forever asking Trudeau as to why he would leave them in caucus. Philpott and Wilson-Raybould are rarely asked to defend their staying in the Liberal caucus.

The Conservatives and the NDP loved Ms Wilson-Raybould. They had after all found the holy grail, one that would lead them to the promised land, to an election where they had a chance of being elected. The Liberals are confused, angry with these allegations and besmirching of their cause, but don’t want to appear to be against the two women, who after all are still standing in their midst.

The press revelled in the “principled” and “brave” Jody Wilson-Raybould. while her indigenous father, ridiculously screamed racism from the sidelines. The story line being that the nasty Trudeau and his cronies had blackballed this outstanding example of an exemplary brave indigenous cabinet minister.

It was eye-opening to see the Press pick and choose their subject lines, often ignoring what the actual evidence that had been stated; which you would only know if you sat for all of the testimony. They pushed the dramatic elements of confrontation. The CBC was buffeted by the winds of Trudeau slamming on the one hand, while at the same time wanting to defend the “principled” Wilson-Raybould. (As an aside, Ms. Philpott is married to a CBC radio journalist)

Mr. Scheer not to be left behind in the expressions of shock, called for the resignation of the Prime Minister. No need for further witnesses in his opinion, Ms Wilson-Raybould was a “compelling” and “truthful” witness. He accepted all of her testimony as gospel. Why would she lie? After all she had her own notes to fall back on.

The two male witnesses who at times claimed a totally different narrative, often backed up by surrendered text messages, were not to be believed. One the head of the PMO and the other the head of the PCO. Both of long-standing duration in government, both articulate, and both telling a different version of the events.

Both expressed confusion as to what had been termed “inappropriate”, in fact both testified as to the need in this case to speak to the public policy surrounding this decision. Both said they were unaware of any “inappropriate” discussions, and both confirmed that neither had been told by Wilson-Raybould’s decision being set in concrete. Wilson-Raybould admitted that she never told either of these parties or the PM of her concern about the interference directly.

But apparently their evidence was not to be believed. Their truth was not her truth.

There is little doubt that the Liberals wanted her to consider alternative prosecution. The Liberals are very tied to the SNC conglomerate, and have been for many years. It is also true that the Liberals consider themselves the defenders of Quebec, so anything affecting jobs in Quebec, a political haven, was serious. They were too smart to direct Ms Wilson-Raybould, so they offered up other meetings in an attempt to persuade, and cajole, and even pushed her into seeking an outside legal opinion. Their intentions were political and thus they were attempting to alter the judicial outcome, it was in their political interest.

Does anyone believe this does not go on, on a regular basis? Does anyone believe for example, that the oil companies have not been lobbying regarding the pipeline; does anyone believe that the Indigenous are doing backroom deals in terms of that same pipeline? Does anyone believe that the Prosecution office does not take politics into consideration? (read my previous blog). We can and should not be that naive, there is always a need to ask questions.

It is wrong in principal. There should be a line that can not be crossed. But normally in Canada we are wilfully blind to these shenanigans.

Was that line crossed in this case? It may never be fully known. What is apparent though in reviewing both of these witnesses is that evidence of Ms Wilson-Raybould should at the very least be tested, her motivations were not pure, nor principled. Principles can not be brought out only when convenient.

So who of the two were the most credible? Cohen or Wilson-Raybould?

In this case, if sitting on the jury, and objectively measuring truthfulness of these witnesses through the lens of corroboration and motivation, the confirmed liar Mr. Cohen may have outdone the righteous Minister, and he may be the most believable.

Carol Goman who wrote the book, “Silent Language of Leaders” says men are often more boastful, but men and women equally lie, it all “depends on the destructive effect of the the lie being told”.

Photo “Black and White Justice” courtesy of Phil Roeder via Flickr Commons Some Rights Reserved


First, a correction. A reader informed me that Jody Wilson-Raybould actually received the S.13 notice from the Prosecutor on September 4 not 12th as I reported, and then returned home on the 12th. She testified that she had her mind made up by Sept 16th, two working days after returning home.

Of course, since I wrote this blog, other developments have occurred. The tide seems to be swinging a little against Ms Raybould, with the leak that she and Trudeau had an earlier disagreement over Judge selection with her not getting her way in terms of the appointment. Her apparent recommendation for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench. If that had happened the broader plan was then to replace Joyal with an “Indigenous” Chief Justice for Manitoba Queens Bench. Many are demanding an investigation into the leak of this investigation, including Ms. Raybould. Of course, she did not demand an investigation on the earlier Globe and Mail leak, which of course benefitted her position and office, and started this whole thing rolling along.

If this is true, there is a great deal of more credence given to the theory that JWR was upset with Trudeau who rejected her Chief Justice bid. Makes it all the more plausible that she was angry over her move, nothing more, and she decided to hit back.

The drama continues.